Address validation online – getting the right address for next to nothing
Forwarding returns, two catalogues sent to the same address or undeliverable circulars – these can all be avoided with address validation. There are numerous providers who can check your addresses online. However, their services are often quite expensive. Let us explain how you can easily acquire the right address for next to nothing. You simply need time.
How do wrong addresses occur?
Customers enter their address details on your online shop or on your landing page. They enter the zip code with transposed digits, the first and last name are reversed or the house number has been forgotten. The next thing you know you have the wrong address in your database. And there are of course people who enter fake addresses.
Mail order companies can often use the address that has been provided to PayPal as address for dispatch. It ought to be correct. However, parts of the address are often lost during the information transfer between PayPal and the online shop. If the customer does not check the order himself, dispatch to the wrong address is inevitable.
Out of date
Addresses supplied by reliable address providers can also include mistakes, like addresses that you might have in your database. In addition to typos, time is the main enemy of addresses. People move house, streets are given new names, towns become part of larger districts, these and many things can make previously correct addresses useless.
What wrong addresses cost you
Let us assume that you run an online shop that sells soaps to customers all over the world. You have approximately 2,000 orders a month. You send your soap for four Euro per order.
If your goods are returned because of a wrong address you will have to get in touch with the customer, request the correct address, and pay the shipping costs again. With only two percent of incorrect data you already have expenses amounting to 160 Euro a month, or 1920 Euro per year. In our example we have only taken the additional shipping costs into account. The amount of time needed to acquire the correct address is not included. The customers who are dissatisfied because of the delay are not mentioned here either.
Address validation – How to get the right address
“It is best for the address to be validated when it is being entered”.
Google – Auto-complete for addresses
You are probably familiar with this feature from Google Maps: You start entering the name a street you are looking for and the correct address is immediately suggested. Typing mistakes when entering addresses are therefore almost entirely excluded. If the house number does not exist, then it is not displayed. Transposed zip codes are also a thing of the past. Old street names or towns that have new names are also not listed.
Google Maps generally lists the names of the cities in which the street can be found. (Picture: Google Maps)
Auto-complete as a module for WordPress
The auto-complete function is even easier if you are using WordPress to create your Internet page. The developer “Webnware” has integrated a cost-free plugin called “Address Autocomplete Using Google Place Api”, which integrates this service in your WordPress page.
You can use the WordPress-Plugin “Address Autocomplete Using Google Place Api” to make your forms easier to use and increase the chances of having correct address data. (Picture: Screenshot WordPress.org)
Address validation – Internal address control
If you already have numerous addresses in your database, you can eradicate certain error data in a few simple steps.
“Access”, a program belonging to the Microsoft-Office family, makes it easy to manage your databases. A detailed explanation regarding how to find and remove double sets of data is provided in the article “Removing and preventing double data”.
Click on this link for “Removing and preventing double data” in Access.
If you are using “Base” in Open Office, you can watch this tutorial explaining how to exclude double addresses.
To find incomplete addresses, for instance without house numbers or zip codes, simply use the filter or search function of your database program. Display all the address sets whose data field “house number” is empty. In this case you will have to ask the customer or check on Google, whether it is actually a street without house numbers.
Correct zip codes
Correct zip codes can also be found as data sets on the Internet, for instance at the German site: www.suche-postleitzahl.org/downloads. This site provides a CSV-file with current zip codes. You can import these directly into your database. You can also download a version for Excel. This makes it easy to automatically compare the zip codes.
In “Downloads” at www.suche-postleitzahl.org you will find data with the current zip codes in different formats.
Large cities are the exception for this simple way of correcting zip codes because various zip codes are used depending on the street.
Sometimes one has to make use of the services supplied by an address provider
Our tips will help you acquire the correct address relatively easily. They also enable the verification of old sets or addresses you have purchased. However, if you want more details or you haven’t got time to do it yourself, then it is best to fall back on the services of a qualified address provider.
But please note:
Most providers do nothing more than automatically test the addresses you have sent. Special verification, for instance whether a company is still located at a specific address, can only be verified by real people. This is where clickworker with its large community can be of assistance for you.
Have a look at the service “Address Enrichment & Validation” by clickworker.